Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To Be #Shawnee: Strong #Family Values

When most people think of the Shawnee family values is not something that comes to mind. The image of the Shawnee in today's society is one that has been well placed in our culture since Europeans first encountered the tribe.



The Shawnee have often been depicted as cruel warriors who kidnap women, children and kill men. Scenes such as the that last on in the video above are not often depicted in the media. The main reason the Shawnee have become one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented tribes in the United States mainly has to do with their history with the settlers. American settlers did not understand every tribe in the United States does not have the same culture. And it was this misunderstanding that lead to many disagreements between the two groups. 

The Shawnee Family

The Shawnee family was a very tight unit yet whenever an outsider came into the village the Shawnee men did not give any attention to their family members. To the outsider, the a Shawnee man was cold hearted, lazy, unloving and cruel. In the village, men were often found lounging around while the women gathered berries, tended to the fields, skinned the hides, cared for the children and maintained the cabins. Women were never alone in the wilderness. The men would carefully watch the women do the work as they socialized with each other. Women were valued more than men in Shawnee culture. While the men may seem lazy in camp they were actually guarding their families while relaxing.

Family was very important to the Shawnee. Children were trained as soon as they were born to assume their gender roles. Gender roles are defined as a set of behavioral and social norms assigned to each gender in any given culture. Shawnee parents took the instruction of gender roles to their children very seriously. Fathers were responsible for training their sons and mothers were responsible for training their daughters.

 As soon as a child was born they were placed in a cradleboard with their head bound so they would grow strong and straight. This practice produced a flat spot on the back of the Shawnee child's head. The flat spot on the back of the head was a characteristic of all Shawnee until modern times. Babies were also taught not to cry in case the parents needed to hide from an enemy. Shawnee parents would also bath their infants in cold water during the summer and winter in order to harden the child's strength.

A Shawnee child's education was never formalized. They were taught from an early age to respect their elders. Much of a child's youth was spent under the tutorage of their grandfathers or great-grandfathers. These elders would teach the children, no matter what the gender was, the history and traditions of the Shawnee people.

A Shawnee father would teach his son hunting, fishing, trapping, the art of warfare and discipline. Everyday activities included swimming, running and jumping. These activities taught young boys agility and strength. Boys would often play games in the village but these games weren't just for fun. They were used to develop a boy's resourcefulness and strength. The video below shows some of the games the Shawnee played.

  

Another game the Shawnee boys played was with a grapevine hoop and a toy bow and arrow. The boys would release the hoop and try to shoot an arrow through the moving target. 

Shawnee girls did not play games but did have toys. They were given dolls so they could learn how to care for a child. The mother would use the doll to teach her daughter how to sew. Daughters were taught how to cook, take care of children, clean house, farm, pick berries, sew, and other skills they would need in order to be a wife and mother. 


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